Look, drinking can be sophisticated, a bounty for the senses, even an intellectual pursuit. But sometimes, drinking can be just plain fun. And nothing says, “Hey we’re here to have fun,” quite like ordering a shot that comes with bacon, especially if that shot is part of a balanced breakfast.
Saunter up to any bar to request a round of Breakfast Shots and you’ll get a shot made of two parts Irish Whiskey (usually Jameson) and one part some kind of sweet schnapps, typically butterscotch flavored. Served next to your shot comes a chilled taste of orange juice and if you’re lucky, a slice of candied, crispy bacon. Even when you’re slightly less lucky, you’ll get bacon bits served around the rim of the OJ glass or in a cup on the side — everything you need for the first meal of the day.
The flavor of sweet, buttery schnapps mingles with the wheaty vanilla notes of whiskey to create an amalgamation reminiscent of pancakes and syrup. Add in the traditional morning flavors of bacon and orange juice, and your senses will take you straight to the counter of any greasy American diner.
“It does exactly what a good piece of French toast should do,” says mixologist and brunch historian Greg Benson. “It’s sweet, indulgent, and leaves your teeth feeling like they’re wearing little sweaters.”
The phenomenon of this decadent liquid breakfast entered the collective consciousness of American bartenders in 2013. Benson says it’s especially popular at bars around college towns, where many people get their first introduction to the drink. By 2017, Breakfast Shot fervor reached its peak, and bartenders as far away as Scotland were mixing them up for crowds. Since then, the presence of butterscotch schnapps (also known as Buttershots) behind the bar has declined. This leaves the Breakfast Shot missing one of its essential ingredients and bar patrons without the option of shot-glass-sized brunch.
But now, thanks to a new trend sweeping the country, the decadent morning drink is reemerging. Flavored whiskeys are popping up wherever shots are poured. These trendy wunderkind whiskeys can fill in for antiquated bottles of sweet schnapps and seldom-used liqueurs that gather dust on bar shelves. In the case of resurrecting this specific shot, Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey is to thank.
“Skrewball can easily replace other sweet or flavored whiskeys and flavored liqueurs such as caramel, butterscotch, or vanilla,” says Tim Knezic, a home bartender who mixes up cocktails and shots with flavored whiskeys at the request of his 2 million TikTok followers.
Knezic, who’s been working with Skrewball to make creative drink recipes for almost two years, explains the substitution, saying: “Skrewball makes a great replacement to Buttershots in the Breakfast Shot recipe because [its] flavor profile offers a smooth whiskey taste and the sweetness that would typically come from butterscotch schnapps. It also adds that touch of savory that balances the sweetness.”
Even though the shot isn’t featured on the menu at her bar, Landon’s Pub in Watkins Glen, N.Y., Ashley Swartwood makes “at least one round of Breakfast Shots per shift.” She says since the drink has multiple glasses and the unusual garnish, it’s automatically “fun and interactive for the guest.”
The order is becoming so popular that it’s influencing the ingredients she keeps prepared behind the bar. “We’re starting to keep candied bacon on hand for this exact reason,” she says. “The bacon takes it over the top.”
Candied bacon, with its shellacked sugar shell, stays crispy longer than its skillet-cooked counterpart. Plus, it kicks up the brunch vibe by turning a standard breakfast side into boozy candy.
Swartwood notes that flavored whiskey drinks are some of the most popular orders behind the bar. “We sell more Dough Ball Cookie Dough Whiskey than Skrewball,” she notes. With the success of the new-and-improved Breakfast Shot, it seems likely that these confectionary-flavored whiskeys will creep into other bar standards.
“I think a lot of bartenders, myself very much included, kind of need to consciously bring themselves off of their high horses,” says Benson, who has been in the New York City bartending scene for six years. “A drink like this is the perfect thing to do that.”
Peanut Butter Breakfast Shot
- 1 ½ ounces Irish whiskey
- 1 ½ ounces Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
- 3 ounces chilled orange juice
- 1 slice Boozy Breakfast Candied Bacon (recipe follows)
- In a mixing glass, combine Irish whiskey and Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey
- Divide the mixture into two individual shot glasses.
- Fill two shot glasses or rocks glasses with orange juice.
- Place ½ slice of Boozy Breakfast Candied Bacon on the rim of each orange juice glass.
- As a group, take the shot. Then, chase it with orange juice followed by the candied bacon. Enjoy responsibly!
Boozy Candied Breakfast Bacon
Yield: 12 slices of bacon (about 24 garnishes)
- 12 slices of bacon
- ½ cup peanut butter whiskey
- ½ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar (divided)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread bacon on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
- Whisk together whiskey and ½ of the brown sugar until well combined.
- Spoon half of the whiskey mixture over the bacon and bake for 8–10 minutes.
- Remove bacon from the oven and, using tongs, flip over each slice. Spoon remaining whiskey mixture over the bacon slices. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and return to the oven.
- Bake, flipping bacon slices every five minutes, until they reach your desired crispiness (about 20 minutes). The glaze will be bubbly and brown (but not black!) when the bacon is done.
- Allow the bacon to cool on the baking sheet for 5–10 minutes. Then, use tongs to carefully transfer bacon slices to a wire rack with paper towels or parchment paper beneath it. Allow bacon to cool completely.
- Enjoy beside your Breakfast Shots!
- To store Boozy Candied Breakfast Bacon, wrap in paper towels or parchment paper and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. To keep the crunchiest candy coating, wrap bacon slices individually.